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English grouse moor owners welcome first golden eagle from Scotland

5th October 2020

Grouse moor owners in the north of England have welcomed a special ‘lock down’ visitor – a golden eagle named Beaky that travelled from the south of Scotland. There have not been any breeding pairs in the wild in England for some years.

The enormous bird, which can have a wing span of seven and a half feet and weigh as much as one stone, journeyed across the border earlier in the year and is part of a conservation project which has sought to address low numbers of golden eagles in the south of Scotland.

Since 2018, the South of Scotland Golden Eagle Project has successfully translocated four golden eagles from the Scottish Highlands to the south of Scotland. The four birds have settled into their new habitats and are fending for themselves. The group plans to translocate more chicks in 2021.

The birds are satellite tagged and have been tracked covering around 140 miles from Eyemouth in the east to the Mull of Galloway in the west, and approximately 90 miles crossing the border into the Pennines.

Beaky, a young golden eagle who was translocated south from GFG Alliance’s JAHAMA Highland Estates in 2018, was the first of the project’s eagles to venture south of the border and visit the Pennine area hunting mammals such as rabbits, hares and young foxes.

Amanda Anderson, Director of the Moorland Association, said: “Our congratulations go to South of Scotland Golden Eagle Project for what’s an amazing achievement. Beaky is an awesome sight over the grouse moors of Northumberland and has thrilled all that saw her.  Hopefully this tremendous milestone is a sign of things to come in terms of reviving their population on both sides of the border.”

“At the Moorland Association we are committed to ensuring our moorlands are welcome habitats for diverse wildlife so it’s encouraging to see that birds are journeying from such distances. Active conservation projects like this are absolutely invaluable and we look forward to supporting and executing many more in the future.”

Cat Barlow, South of Scotland Golden Eagle Project Manager said: “ Two years after our first translocation, it is wonderful see our first chicks thrive in southern Scotland and interact with locally fledged young eagles – this is absolutely key to addressing low numbers. We were particularly excited by Beaky’s exploration into northern England, as she is the first of our birds to explore that far south. There have been no golden eagles breeding in the wild in England for a number of years now.”

“We have had fantastic support from public, local communities and land management wherever our birds travel. This support is now more important than ever to ensure we see this important bird soar high in our skies for many years to come.

Julia Stoddart, chief operating officer of the JAHAMA Highland Estates, where Beaky was reared by her parents before being carefully translocated to the south of Scotland, added: “We pride ourselves in delivering a positive future for the land we manage and the nature that flourishes within them. We believe it is vital for responsible landowners to support this pioneering and important conservation project and we are delighted to be involved. It is hugely rewarding to hear that one of our locally born chicks Beaky is settling so well in her new home and has made such a significant journey to the Pennines. It is so important for landowners to really embrace and support projects like this to ensure responsible conservation of our wonderful natural habitats for future generations.”

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Did You Know?

75% of Europe’s remaining upland heather moorland is found in the UK – but this area declined alarmingly over the latter part of the last century. The Moorland Association was set up in 1986 to coordinate the efforts of moorland owners and managers to halt this loss, particularly in England and Wales.

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